Predators power past Stars

Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Entering Thursday night's game with just 71 goals in 31 games, the Nashville Predators aren't exactly known as an offensive powerhouse.
But when the Dallas Stars took two penalties in seven seconds late in the first period, the Predators pounced for the goals which put them ahead to stay.
Right winger Patric Hornqvist and center David Legwand scored 28 seconds apart in the period's final minute and Nashville earned a 3-1 win at Bridgestone Arena.
Goaltender Carter Hutton (6-3-1) recorded 33 saves for the Predators (15-14-3), who won their second consecutive game after losing five straight. Dallas (14-11-5) lost for the third time in its past four games.
"We talked about it before the game, how our power play needs to be a big factor," said Nashville defenseman Shea Weber, who drew assists on both power-play markers. "It was a big part of the game. We did a good job putting pucks on the net."
Left winger Erik Cole's backhander over Hutton's right shoulder at 18:07 of the first gave the Stars a 1-0 lead. But that advantage lasted less than a minute as center Shawn Horcoff was whistled for high-sticking at 18:45 and defenseman Brenden Dillon went to the penalty box for a delay-of-game call after shooting the puck over the glass from his defensive zone.
It took the Predators 10 seconds to tie the score. Legwand looked off a defender and zipped a pass to Hornqvist between the hash marks. Hornqvist one-timed it by goaltender Kari Lehtonen for his seventh goal of the year.
Legwand made it 2-1 at 19:30, jumping on the rebound of defenseman Roman Josi's slap shot off Lehtonen and banking it off the left goal post for his sixth goal.
"That's a game-changer," Legwand said of the back-to-back power-play tallies. "It's huge for our team. Executing 5-on-3s are big. We're 4-for-4 on those this year and we need to keep that intact."
Hutton said the sudden change in momentum turned the game around.
"Getting two like that back-to-back really changed the game," he said. "It got us rolling."
It certainly didn't hurt Hutton, who turned back all 21 shots he saw over the final two periods, denying right winger Alex Chiasson a potential tying goal from point-blank range in the second period and robbing center Tyler Seguin with a great glove save midway through the third.
Prior to Tuesday night's 4-1 win at the New York Rangers, Hutton hadn't started since Nov. 10, a span of 13 games. But when Marek Mazanec, the NHL's Rookie of the Month for November, gave up 12 goals in losses to Vancouver, Carolina and Washington, Hutton got another shot.
"I think it's more the confidence factor," Hutton said when asked if he had trouble staying sharp while Mazanec shouldered the load for a month. "I never really felt I was playing that bad when Maz came in and played great. I've been on both sides of that. All you can do is work hard and wait for your chance."
Center Paul Gaustad potted the game's final goal at 9:14 of the second period, maneuvering around Lehtonen and burying a wrist shot into an open net for his fifth goal of the season and second in as many games.
Lehtonen (11-7-5) finished with 27 saves for Dallas, which fell for just the fourth time in its past 12 road games.
"We lost the game in a two-minute span," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "We were playing a good period and had a lead, but for me it's a mental mistake we can't make as a team. You get down five-on-three, it's pretty tough."
NOTES: Nashville C Craig Smith missed his third straight game after playing in the first 29. A healthy scratch for Saturday night's loss in Washington, Smith has been sidelined for the last two games by flu-like symptoms. ... Dallas C Vernon Fiddler, a former Predator, sat out his second consecutive game with an upper-body injury. ... Nashville entered the game ranked second in the NHL in faceoff win percentage at .542. C Paul Gaustad was the NHL individual leader at 60.5 percent. ... The Stars and Predators were meeting for the first time this season. It was the latest in Dallas team history that it faced a division rival for the first time. The teams meet four more times in 2013-14, with three of the games in Dallas.

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